Mark 8

Feeding The Four Thousand and Signs from Heaven: When Jesus heals, feeds and casts out demons, we do see evidence that God is with him. But he never does these things just for show. In fact he often tries to keep them private. Miracles are not firstly demonstrations of God’s power: they are acts of compassion. So when the Pharisees ask for signs he refuses. Whatever Jesus does, miraculous or not, is ‘proof’ of his Father’s character, love and holiness: his identity. The Pharisees want him to prove that he serves the God they believe in, and this he cannot do. Their teaching (the yeast of the Pharisees) is a dangerous distortion of God. Jesus can only prove that the God of Israel is not who they think He is.

Healing in two parts: Do you ever get frustrated prayers that are only partially answered, or worse, when prayer doesn’t seem answered at all? Even Jesus’ didn’t always get instant results! Here, for no apparent reason, God decides to heal in two parts. Jesus isn’t perturbed by His Father’s method. He asks a question, learns what the Holy Spirit has begun, and continues to work toward the goal. I know that I need to learn that lesson – to pray, ask how God is answering, and continue to pray in that direction. It doesn’t mean our prayers are “less powerful,” because the answer to prayer is never about our power, it’s about God’s plans and purposes. And if delayed or partial answers make us spend more time seeking God, well, mission accomplished!

The Markan Secret: The first half of Mark’s gospel clearly establishes that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. Peter’s confession here completes and confirms that theme. The rest of the Gospel reveals what it means to be the Christ, the Son of God.

Contrary to popular belief, Christ did not come to win wars, crush enemies, or give (earthly) rewards to his friends. Instead Jesus has come to lay down his life, to suffer for the sake of a lost world. Those who follow him will also make sacrifices as they follow their Lord in loving the sinful, the hurting and the poor. Only faith and love for this compassionate Saviour and trustworthy friend can overcome our fears and hesitations and bring us to say, “Yes” to becoming a Christian.

It may not sound like a great sales pitch for becoming Christ’s apprentice: Yet we know what it is to lose our soul, trying to pursue things that can never satisfy. Jim Elliot, a martyr for Jesus, once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.” We will lose everything of this world to death, but in turning to Christ we can have him forevermore.

Lord, You are of more value than any pleasure this world can offer. Help us make the right choice, the wise choice, and choose you to be our treasure and our life!